Critiques: Should I Be Completely Honest? (Repost)

imagesI’m a member of Scribophile. If you don’t know what that is, and you are really interested in writing and getting feedback, Scribophile is the place to be. It’s like Facebook for writers. You do critiques and in turn others critique your work. I wish I had found it years ago. You get some so so critiques, but you also get a lot of good ones from people who know what they are doing. At any rate this blog wasn’t suppose to be an infomercial for Scribophile.

I did a critique yesterday, and I felt awful when I was done.  The young lady who wrote it obviously had writing skills. Her descriptions, imagery, and grammar were better than mine. She could string a perfect sentence together, but that seemed to be were it ended. I read her premise which was a good one, but way overused.

The entire segment of 2600 words, which followed another segment of the same length, covered her main character’s flight on a plane to Italy. Now if the story was taking place in that plane, or for some reason all of the characters in that plane and what they did was important, I wouldn’t be writing this particular blog. But they are not, the plane is just getting her to Italy so she can find the love of her life. Again, it was very well written, and I could picture myself and all of those different people on the plane.

I am what I call a skipper, I have no problem skipping over complete paragraphs of exposition to get to the good stuff. I would have skipped most of what she had written, even though it was written beautifully. I didn’t for the sake of the critique.

While I tried to be nice in my summary and point out all of the things great about her work, and there were many, I felt as if I wouldn’t be doing her justice by letting it end at that. So I told her what I would want someone to tell me.

Your writing is great but the pace is nonexistent. I feel like I’m stuck on that plane and want to get off. You’re providing too much detail and putting a lot of time and energy into characters that we will never see again. You are giving great back story, but it’s too much at once. And finally, you do not need to give us a step by step account of everything that happens from the minute she gets on the plane until the minute she gets off.

I will continue to be honest with writers about their work in what I hope is a constructive manner. I don’t want to discourage anybody, but I want ignore major flaws to avoid hurt feelings either.

What do you think?  Would you want someone to tell you everything is great in your novel when it’s not, or would you want the truth, even if it hurt?
-Jan R

Critiques: Should I Be Completely Honest? (Repost)

It’s Your Story! (Repost)

3aefcc38a20542bd3ee999eca594de5eI contemplated what to write about today. If you’re a blogger you know the routine. You want to share something meaningful that will be helpful and not sound stupid. You also want to be yourself and not sound like a reference book.

I was sitting on my couch reworking a scene in the novel I’m writing and stopped right in the middle of it. What am I doing? I asked myself. The purpose of the rewrite was to make some changes based on a critique I received from a critique partner.

The person that critiqued my book is very good at the craft, and I respect  her opinion. There were others who critiqued the piece and loved it, offering a few comments here and there to correct grammar or replace a word. So who was right? The three people who loved it, or the one who thought I needed to go back and make some significant changes.

The more I looked at the changes this person suggested, there were quite a few throughout the time period I’ve posted my work, the more I realized she had her own idea of the way the story needed to go, and I had mine.

With this being said, she’s made some great suggestions. Because of her my story is more believable,  my dialogue more natural, and my POV more consistent. Her critiques have been invaluable.

However, I had to remind myself that this is my story. Nobody has a better understanding of the dynamics than I do. Nobody knows it from beginning to end but me. Nobody can tell it better than me.

Weigh comments and suggestions you receive from others and ask this question. Is it making my story better or changing it into something it is not?

Remember: It’s your story.

-Jan R

It’s Your Story! (Repost)

Critiques! Should I Be Completely Honest? (revised)

imageshu6grmxrIf you want to be an author, you had better develop a thick skin or at least pretend to. You will be rejected, and you will receive critiques that can be discouraging, but this is part of the process. Being a novice to writing, I probably got a double portion of both. I’m glad people were honest with me. I am a much better writer because my critique partners told me the truth.

I did a critique a while back and struggled with submitting my remarks. The person that I completed the critique for was proud of her work, and I didn’t want to be the one to pop her balloon.  She had great writing skills. Her descriptives, imagery, and grammar were better than mine. She could string a perfect sentence together, but that seemed to be were it ended. I read her premise which was a good one, but way overused.

The entire segment of 2600 words, which followed another segment of the same length, covered her main character’s flight on a plane to Italy. Now if the story was taking place in that plane or for some reason all of the characters in that plane and what they did was important, I wouldn’t be writing this particular blog. But they were not, the plane was just getting her to Italy so she could find the love of her life. Again it was very well written, and I could picture myself and all of those different people on the plane.

I am what I call a skipper, I have no problem skipping over complete paragraphs of exposition to get to the good stuff. I would have skipped most of what she had written, even though it was written beautifully. I didn’t for the sake of the critique.

While I tried to be nice in my summary and point out all of the things great about her work and there were many, I felt as if I wouldn’t be doing her justice by letting it end at that. So I told her what I would want someone to tell me.

Your writing is great but the pace is nonexistent. I feel like I’m stuck on that plane and want to get off. You’re providing too much detail and putting too much time and energy into characters that we will never see again. You do not need to give us a step by step account of everything that happens from the minute she gets on the plane to the minute she gets off , and while your back story is great, it’s too much at one time.

I will continue to be honest with writers about their work in what I hope is a constructive manner. I don’t want to discourage anybody, but I won’t ignore major flaws that will set them up for failure, to avoid hurt feelings either.

What do you think?  Would you want someone to tell you everything is great in your novel when it’s not, or would you want the truth, even if it hurt?

-Jan R

Critiques! Should I Be Completely Honest? (revised)

What’s In Your Toolbox II

11510921-toolbox-with-tools-skrewdriver-hammer-handsaw-and-wrench-3d-stock-photoAbout a week ago I wrote a blog on tools I use to help with writing. I included the usual suspects-dictionary and thesaurus, but also included a few that I thought  many of my readers probably did not know existed. These included the ’emotion thesaurus’ -yes there is such a thing and it is great to help you get the creative juices flowing when describing your character’s reaction to what is going on in a particular scene.

After I posted the blog, I thought of a few more that have been instrumental in helping me to become a better writer and wanted to add those to the list. So, I decided to write What’s in you toolbox II.

Autocrit-is an online editing site that offers invaluable information about your prose. Being a beginner, I never thought about my word use or over word use is probably more accurate. I never thought about clichés, or passive writing, or the length of my sentences and how it affected the pacing.  One of my catch phrases is “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

So you can subscribe to Autocrit for free and it will review a segment of your writing(about 250 words at a time). After doing an analysis, it will provide you with the most used words in the segment and approximately how many you should have used, clichés, passive verbs, sentence length, and so much more.

The way Autocrit makes it’s money is you discover how great a tool it is and you pay for the upgrade. I purchased the upgrade for one year and used it frequently to help me become more aware of my writing and the common mistakes I was guilty of making. I am now more aware of my shortcomings and hopefully avoiding many of the mistakes I made in the past.

Grammarly – I’ve never used this site, but it’s my understanding that it is similar to Autocrit. I know many of my critique partners like it, so I thought I would throw it in the mix as a site to check out.

Scribophile- Who doesn’t need a critique partner who knows what they are looking for while reviewing your work and will offer an objective critique on what they are reading. If you are like me, you didn’t want to approach family and friends. They’re not writers and don’t understand the mechanics, plus they don’t want to hurt your feelings so they sugarcoat their critiques of your book. Besides that, what if they don’t like it. Nobody wants to be rejected especially by people they care about.

Scribophile is an online critique group that will critique up to about 3000 words of your novel at a time. It is free. Once again you can upgrade, but this is totally unnecessary, unless you are using it like Facebook to communicate with other aspiring authors. The way it works is you critique other peoples work and earn points. Once you have accumulated enough you can post your work. I had an 82,000 word novel critiqued in about 3 months.

You will find some of your critiques are performed by novices but many others by very good writers. The recommendations and assistance I got to correct grammar, POV issues and plot holes was invaluable.

They also have a book swap group if you would like to have someone read your work through completely without going the critique route. Before I had anyone look at my work, I wanted to go the critique route, so I could iron out as many mistakes as possible.

There are other online critique groups, but I haven’t used any of them, so I can’t comment on their effectiveness in helping with your writing. I know Scribophile and give them 5 stars 🙂

So many resources available at little to no cost. You just need to know where to look.

So what’s in your toolbox? Would love to hear from you.

-Jan R

 

What’s In Your Toolbox II

It’s Your Story (Revised)

I was sitting on my couch reworking a scene in the novel I’m writing when I stopped right in the middle of it. What am I doing? I asked myself. The purpose of the rewrite was to make some changes based on a critique I received earlier in the week.

The person that critiqued my book is very good at the craft, and I respect  her opinion. There were others who critiqued the piece and loved it, offering a few comments here and there to correct grammar or replace a word. So who was right? The three people who loved it, or the one who thought I needed to go back and make some significant changes.

The more I thought about the changes this person suggested,  and there have been quite a few throughout the time period I’ve posted my work, the more I realized she had her own idea of the way my story needed to go, and I had mine.

With this being said, she’s made some great suggestions. Because of her my story is more believable,  my dialogue more natural, and my POV more consistent. Her critiques have been invaluable.

However, I had to remind myself that this is my story. Nobody has a better understanding of the dynamics than I do. Nobody knows it from beginning to end but me. Nobody can tell it better than me.

Weigh comments and suggestions you receive from others and ask this question. Is it making my story better or changing it into something it is not? Remember: It’s your story.

I’m a Merry Christmas kind of person, but I know not all of my readers celebrate the holidays as I do. However you celebrate, I pray you have a wonderful holiday season. Be safe and thank you for stopping by!

-Jan R

It’s Your Story (Revised)

It’s Your Story

images-10I contemplated what to write about today. If you’re a blogger you know the routine. You want to share something meaningful that will be helpful and not sound stupid. You also want to be yourself and not sound like a reference book.

I was sitting on my couch reworking a scene in the novel I’m writing last night and stopped right in the middle of it. What am I doing? I asked myself. The purpose of the rewrite was to make some changes based on a critique I received earlier last week.

The person that critiqued my book is very good at the craft, and I respect  her opinion. There were others who critiqued the piece and loved it, offering a few comments here and there to correct grammar or replace a word. So who was right? The three people who loved it, or the one who thought I needed to go back and make some significant changes.

The more I looked at the changes this person suggested, there were quite a few throughout the time period I’ve posted my work, the more I realized she had her own idea of the way the story needed to go, and I had mine.

With this being said, she’s made some great suggestions. Because of her my story is more believable,  my dialogue more natural, and my POV more consistent. Her critiques have been invaluable.

However, I had to remind myself that this is my story. Nobody has a better understanding of the dynamics than I do. Nobody knows it from beginning to end but me. Nobody can tell it better than me.

Weigh comments and suggestions you receive from others and ask this question. Is it making my story better or changing it into something it is not? Remember: It’s your story.

-Jan R

 

It’s Your Story

Don’t Let Anyone Derail Your Work

imagesI received a really nice critique today from someone who loved my work. I have to admit I smiled and perked right up. I feel like I’ve taken a beating lately with critiques and it can be discouraging.

Quintessentialeditor has a great post on writing groups/critiques; just published. He talks about ground rules that should be in place and sticking to the Authors agenda and needs.

While most of my critiques have been pretty much spot on, there have been quite a few people lately, that do more advising than critiquing.  They try to take over your story and tell you how they think you should approach a situation.

With those people I simply say, “Thank you for the critique” and quietly trash it. Always remember this is your story and your vision. Don’t let someone else derail your work. It doesn’t mean you can’t read their comments and consider their points. I’ve received some good advice as well.

I also try to remember, that most people providing those hurtful critiques, want to help, but as Quintessentialeditor says, they need some ground rules.

It may be necessary to cut ties with some critique partners. This is an extreme, but you don’t want to allow anyone to crush your dream. You have to decide, who is helping you on your journey and who is holding you back.

-Jan R

 

Don’t Let Anyone Derail Your Work